Word of the day


Vote– a formal expression of preference for a candidate for office or for a proposed resolution of an issue; a means by which such a preference is made known, such as a raised hand or a marked ballot; a choice or decision expressed by the voice, by hand or by writing;  the number of votes cast in an election or to resolve an issue; a group of voters alike in some way; the act or process of voting; the result of an election or referendum; the right to participate as a voter, suffrage.

The things you do for the cause


Getting election hoardings up at the start of a campaign is a major effort.

Looking after them and cleaning up after the vandals is also a big job.

Getting them down again isn’t always easy either:

All weather campaigner


There’s a lot more to campaigning than the carefully stage-managed photo opportunities we see on television.

I can’t speak for other parties, but know that all National MPs, candidates and their teams of volunteers have been doing the hard work they hope will translate into voter support.

That means a punishing schedule of public meetings, functions, events, interviews, door knocking, delivering pamphlets, human hoardings, and generally seeing and being seen.

Regardless of what the polls are saying – and not even the most optimistic of us are counting on being able to govern alone- National MPs and candidates and their teams of supporters have been told to give campaigning their all and carry on through rain hail or snow.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean has been taking that last instruction literally:

She’s also had to cope with traffic hold-ups:

(That red vehicle coming the other way isn’t the opposition campaigning it’s the Rural Mail wo/man.)

Ending as he began?


Winston Peters began his parliamentary career after a legal appeal.

Is it possible that if New Zealand First manages to get over the 5% threshold tomorrow he might end his career the same way?

Kiwiblog has found evidence which suggest this could be so:

An investigation by Kiwiblog has found that the candidacy of Winston Peters for New Zealand First is illegal under the Incorporated Societies Act 1908.

Follow the link to read more.



Seven reasons to oppose MMP


Jim Hopkins has a very good reason to vote for change tomorrow:

Unless we vote for change, the politicians will decide how they are elected. They may tinker with MMP or change it radically. The choice will be theirs, not ours. A vote for change will ensure a second referendum, with MMP tested against one of the alternatives. It means we will control the evolution of our peaceful democracy. Let the politicians address the economy. But the elections belong to us!

Auckland businessman, Ashley Church, provides six more good reasons to ditch MMP:

1.      Confusion. After over 15 years, there are still a very large number of voters who don’t understand how MMP works and don’t know whether the List, or the Electorate vote, is more important. The procedure for electing an MP and decide who will form a Government should be simple, straightforward, and easy to understand. MMP isn’t.

2.       Strategic Voting. Voting for one party in order to get another elected, such as voting ACT in Epsom to get National into Government, is one of the perverse results of the MMP system. Having to vote for one party in order to get another elected is counter to the basic  principles of democracy Voting should be simple and straightforward and based on the principle of supporting the party you want in Government.

3.      Disproportional Representation. The 3 yearly ritual of allowing small parties (sometimes VERY small parties) to decide who they will go into coalition with (and therefore, who will be Government) puts far too much power in the hands of the few, over the many. Parties which enjoy widespread voter support should have power in proportion to that support – they should not be able to be held to ransom by small parties of extremists with unpopular agendas as allowed by the current system

4.      Backdoor MPS. Another insidious feature of MMP is the way it allows people who have been defeated in a fair electorate contest to get into Parliament by the backdoor, through the MMP Party List. If a candidate has been rejected by the voters – that rejection should stand.

5.       Unstable Government. One of the repeated consequences of coalition Government, in this country, is the reality of unstable Government. One particular party has made an art form of suddenly finding a conscience 6 to 12 months out from an election and engineering its departure from the coalition – thus throwing the country into turmoil and forcing the creation of bizarre short-term coalitions. Any system which allows a small party to bring down the Government, as MMP does, should be utterly rejected.

6.       Short term thinking. Because the major parties have to keep one eye on the needs of their smaller coalition partners, long-term thinking is virtually impossible under MMP. The concept of a nation-building plan which spans several electoral cycles is virtually impossible under MMP because the makeup of each Parliament differs so much depending on the configuration of parties which form the Government.  Governments should be able to plan for changes that take more than 3 or 6 years to implement – but under MMP they can’t.

I would add: MMP gives too much power to parties at the cost of representation for people; promotes groups at the expense of individuals and makes electorates too big.

P.S. the quote from Jim is the closing paragraph in a column on voting which deserves to be read in full.

P.P.S. I have no idea who Ashley Church is, I came across his media release on Scoop.

Poliltical compass points me nowhere


Liberation suggests people who are undecided about who to vote for tomorrow try the political compass.

I did and got this result:

Economic left/right 3:88; social libertarian/authoritarian -2.87 is slightly  more centrist and libertarian than last time I did the test when I was right  4.38, Libertarian: -1.74.

But it’s absolutely useless as a guide for voting because there are no  New Zealand parties in that square:

I’m taking that as an indication of faults in the test and analysis of the parties rather than my decision and sticking with two ticks for National.

Friday’s answers


Thursday’s questions were:

1. It’s choisir in French, in scegliere  Italian,  elegir in Spanish and whiriwhiri in Maori, what is it in English?

2. Who said: “An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.”?

3. How many members should (as distinct from does) a party need to be registered?

4. Will you vote on Saturday (or before by special vote)?

5. Have you decided how you’ll vote?

Points for answers:

Gravedodger gets three and an improvement but not enough for #3.

James S. gets three, a nearly-there for #5 and a getting better but still not enough for #3.

Andrei gets three,  and 2/3 for #5, a far too low for #3 and a bonus for the full answer to #2.

James G. gets three, a bonus for extra languages and consolation point for # 4 since he would if he could.

Adam gets two, a far-too-low for #3 and a very deep sigh for #s 4 and 5.

Paul gets one and a how can #5 be yes if #4 is a pass?

I’ve confused myself with the scoring but will award an electronic box of North Otago new potatoes to Andrei and James G.

Answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

MMP as bad as prophesied?


An ODT editorial published before the last referendum on our electoral system had this to say about MMP:

 . . . the dangers of the mixed member proportional (MMP) system are considerable.

In summary they are a more expensive Parliament with more paid members (120), less real representation for the South Island and the possibility of the creation of more Maori seats instead of an integrated system and doubts about the ‘party lists’ system where the voters have no direct say in the candidates finally declared elected.

There is also the resulting instability of governments with the high probability of coalitions and political ‘deals” in efforts to avoid frequent elections. Under MMP there will be no real meaning in any party manifestos or political promises because of the need to compromise within coalitions after the election. And this sort of proportional representation will probably lead to the break-up of the main political parties, National and Labour.

The Otago Daily Times is more concerned about the November 6 referendum than the General Election also on that date. The election will merely determine the government for the next term of office, but the referendum is crucial to the future of New Zealand. A wrong decision to opt for MMP could be most costly for the taxpayer and disastrous for the country in the long term. . .

The danger is that the referendum may be regarded by some voters as some sort of a novelty and a chance to exercise a ‘protest vote’. It could be that if the general election campaign descends to too many personalities some people will blindly vote for a change in the electoral system in order to say ‘a plague on all your houses’. . .

MMP in our opinion is not only seriously flawed but also a dangerous option politically and economically. . .

Not all the ODT’s fears have been realised but we have got a more expensive parliament with more MPs;  less real representation and not just for the South Island; and party lists over which voters have no direct say.

The potential for unstable government is greater as is the probability of coalitions and deals. Manifestos and promises have been sacrificed and compromised in private post-election negotiations.

The referendum was regarded by voters as a chance to exercise a protest vote and ironically in voting against MPs we got saddled with a system which gave us more.

MMP is flawed. So are all the other systems for which we have the chance to opt tomorrow but the good points about SM outweigh the bad ones for me.

Two blue ticks


I am giving National two ticks tomorrow, as I did three years ago and in every election since we’ve had MMP.

I voted blue in the elections before that too. At first I voted in ignorance, then through emotion and by the sixth election I was voting from conviction.

In 2008 I said I was giving my electorate vote  to Jacqui Dean because she’d earned it and she’s continued to do that.

Her commitment and work ethic are unquestioned. The difficulties of servicing the 34,888 square kilometres the Waitaki Electorate covers would defeat a lesser woman (or man). But Jacqui continues to relish the challenges of working for people across this huge area and keeps both her composure and sense of humour while doing it.

My party vote will go to National because it’s the party vote that counts.

I not only want a National-led government I am genuinely concerned by the consequences for New Zealand and New Zealanders if we don’t get it.

National is the party whose philosophy and principles most closely match my own.

Its vision is for a safe, prosperous and successful country that creates opportunities for all New Zealanders to reach their personal goals and dreams.

Its values include national and personal security, equal citizenship and equal opportunity, individual freedom and choice, competitive enterprise and rewards for achievement and sustainable development.

That’s translated into policy which recognises that:

* Those who can look after themselves should be left alone to do so and we have a responsibility to help those who can’t.

* Education is the key to success.

* A growing economy is necessary for our individual and collective welfare. Wealth is important not as an end but the means for a happier, healthier, better educated, more secure society.

*Property rights are one of the foundations of democracy.

* Sustainable development balances economic, social and environmental needs.

I don’t agree with every single policy implemented in the last three years but am certain that the National has done a much better job in incredibly difficult times than any other party could or would have.

My party vote also goes to National because I like and trust its leadership.

I respect John Key’s achievements, I’m awed by his energy, I appreciate his humility, I enjoy his sense of humour, I’m moved by his obvious love for and commitment to his family and I’m humbled by the sacrifices – financial and personal – he’s making because he believes he can make a positive difference to New Zealand.

Bill English has done sterling work as Deputy PM and Finance Minister. I admire his loyalty, enthusiasm, intelligence, compassion, wit, achievements and commitment to his beliefs. He was faced with the prospect of a decade of deficits when he took over the nation’s finances and he’s managed to get the country on track back to surplus by 2014/15 in spite of the global financial crisis and the impact of Canterbury’s earthquakes.

Their cabinet colleagues have made significant gains in many areas and they are backed up by a united caucus with diverse backgrounds and skills.

This government has had to face an unprecedented series of natural and financial disasters at home and abroad in the last three years. They have done their best to steer us back towards prosperity while protecting the vulnerable and they have done it while working with other parties to the right and left.

That experience will be invaluable in leading the country back to surplus in the face of global instability and volatility.

Just as householders have accepted the need to rein in spending, we need a government that leads by example, reducing debt, cutting its own costs and implementing polices to encourage savings, investment and export led growth.

This is not the time for big spending, more debt, disunity and instability.

It’s the time for strong and stable leadership and National’s the only party that can offer that.

Regardless of what the voters decide, and whatever the makeup of the new governmentthere will be no miracles. But I trust these two people and the team they lead to do their best for New Zealand and New Zealanders.

That’s why tomorrow I’ll be giving two ticks to National.

System or times?


Proponents of MMP argue that it is better for getting representation of women and ethnic minorities.

This post at the Hand Mirror leaves no doubt that parliament has become more diversified since MMP was introduced, but how much has that had to do with the system and how much has it had to do with the times?

Society has changed a lot in the last 15 years. More women and a wider range of people from different nationalities and cultures have entered parliament on lists, but I wouldn’t want to suggest many, maybe even most, could and would not have been able to win electorate seats.

An example of both how they can and what’s wrong with MMP is Georgina Beyer, the world’s first transvestite mayor. She entered parliament by winning a seat but then when the electorate kicked her out she stayed on as an MP through the list.

To believe that people on lists wouldn’t be able to win seats would be a very poor reflection on both them and the parties they represent. It would mean their presence in parliament wasn’t due to what they had to offer but to tokenism.

That leads on to the question of whether diversity in parliament has made a material and positive difference to the communities these people are supposed to represent and wider New Zealand or whether their presence has just been a token one.

I think the jury is out on that. Some have made very real contributions, others have been nothing more than a bum on a parliamentary seat when votes are counted.

It’s all very well to say parliament is more representative of some sectors of the population but it has come at the cost of others. Does, for example, any party but National have any farmers (proper ones, not lifestylers)? Phil Goff was asked in a radio interview how many of his caucus had run their own business and he struggled to name any.

Even if increased diversity could only be achieved through lists, and I don’t think that is the case, it has come at the very high cost of fewer and therefore much larger electorates.

Greater diversity in parliament is small comfort for the people who find it much more difficult to meet their MP in their electorates.

If we changed to a system with more electorates there would be far more opportunities for people to be selected for winnable seats. Smaller seats would also increase the pool of people able to stand, make it much easier for MPs to service the electorate and for constituents to have access to them.

No electoral system is perfect, all have advantages and disadvantages.

Among MMP’s weak points is the amount of power it gives to parties when National is the only one left with a wide and numerous membership base.

That increased power for parties has resulted in poorer representation for people.

Who sits in parliament doesn’t make much difference to most people.  MPs who are able to service their electorates easily and provide ready access for constituents is far more important.

That is why I’ll be voting for change tomorrow and choosing Supplementary Member.

Vote for left vote for uncertain leadership


Few people expect Phil Goff to continue as leader for long if he isn’t able to become Prime Minister tomorrow.

But what will happen if he is?

He hasn’t been able to keep his caucus disciplined, loyal and united in opposition. How would he do it in government when he not only has to keep his own team under control but deal with the unstable stack of coalition partners as well?

The only reason no-one had the guts to challenge Goff is that the Labour leadership was regarded as a poisoned chalice and no-one was willing to be tainted by it.

But ousting the Prime Minister at the start of his tenure would be a much more attractive proposition than taking over from the leader of an opposition most thought was doomed to lose the election.

The policies a coalition of the left would foist upon us would be damaging enough. Adding unstable leadership to a shaky stack of mismatched parties would do even more harm.

A vote for the left isn’t just a vote for instability, it’s a vote for uncertain leadership.

Labour offers nothing to vote for


As the election campaign grinds to a close Labour’s getting more and more negative.

They’ve never promoted their leader which is understandable given his lack of traction and the tenuous hold he has on the position.

They’ve stopped talking about their policies, and given how ill-conceived most are, that’s understandable too.

All they’ve got left is negativity.

They’re throwing it all at John Key and a single National policy, the plan to sell up to 49% of a very few state owned companies which they’re misrepresenting as a fire sale of state assets.

They’re leaving us in no doubt what they’re against. But they’re offering nothing positive to vote for except more debt and unstable government when uncertainty around the world dictates the need to reduce debt which requires a strong, stable government.

The choice is clear between positivity, strength and stability or negativity, weakness and instability.

November 25 in history


1034 – Máel Coluim mac Cináeda, King of Scots died. Donnchad, the son of his daughter Bethóc and Crínán of Dunkeld, inherited the throne.

1120 – The White Ship sank in the English Channel, drowning William Adelin, son of Henry I of England.

1177 – Baldwin IV of Jerusalem and Raynald of Chatillon defeated Saladin at the Battle of Montgisard.

1343 – A tsunami, caused by the earthquake in the Tyrrhenian Sea, devastated Naples and the Maritime Republic of Amalfi, among other places.

1491 – The siege of Granada, the last Moorish stronghold in Spain, began.

1667 – A deadly earthquake rocked Shemakha in the Caucasus, killing 80,000 people.

1703 – The Great Storm of 1703, the greatest windstorm ever recorded in the southern part of Great Britain, reached its peak intensity. Winds gusted up to 120 mph, and 9,000 people died.

1755 – King Ferdinand VI of Spain granted royal protection to the Beaterio de la Compañia de Jesus, now known as the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary.

1758 – French and Indian War: British forces captured Fort Duquesne from French control. Fort Pitt built nearby grew into modern Pittsburgh.

1759 – An earthquake hit the Mediterranean destroying Beirut and Damascus and killing 30,000-40,000.

1783 – American Revolutionary War: The last British troops left New York City three months after the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

1795 – Partitions of Poland: Stanislaus August Poniatowski, the last king of independent Poland, was forced to abdicate and was exiled to Russia.

1826 – The Greek frigate Hellas arrived in Nafplion to become the first flagship of the Hellenic Navy.

1833 – A massive undersea earthquake, estimated magnitude between 8.7-9.2 rocks Sumatra, producing a massive tsunami all along the Indonesian coast.

1835 Andrew Carnegie, British-born industrialist and philanthropist, was born (d. 1919).

1839 – A cyclone in India with high winds and a 40 foot storm surge, destroyed the port city of Coringa. The storm wave swept inland, taking with it 20,000 ships and thousands of people. An estimated 300,000 deaths resulted.

1844  – Karl Benz, German engineer and inventor, was born (d. 1929).

1863 – American Civil War: Battle of Missionary Ridge .

1867 – Alfred Nobel patented dynamite.

1874 – The United States Greenback Party was established consisting primarily of farmers affected by the Panic of 1873.

1880 John Flynn, Founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, was born.

1880  Elsie J. Oxenham, British children’s author, was born.

1890 Isaac Rosenberg, English war poet and artist, was born.

1903 – By winning the world light-heavyweight championship, Timaru boxer Bob Fitzsimmons became the first man ever to be world champion in three different weight divisions.

Fitzsimmons wins third world boxing title

1905 – The Danish Prins Carl arrived in Norway to become King Haakon VII of Norway.

1914  Joe DiMaggio, American baseball player, was born(d. 1999).

1915 – Augusto Pinochet, Chilean dictator, was born (d. 2006).

1917 – German forces defeated Portuguese army of about 1200 at Negomano on the border of modern-day Mozambique and Tanzania.

1918 – Vojvodina, formerly Austro-Hungarian crown land, proclaimed its secession from Austria–Hungary to join the Kingdom of Serbia.

1926 – The deadliest November tornado outbreak in U.S. history struck on Thanksgiving day. 27 twisters were reported in the Midwest, including the strongest November tornado, an estimated F4, that devastated Heber Springs, Arkansas and killed 51 with 76 deaths and over 400 injuries in all.

1936 – Germany and Japan sigedn the Anti-Comintern Pact, agreeing to consult on measures “to safeguard their common interests” in the case of an unprovoked attack by the Soviet Union against either nation.

1940 – World War II: First flight of the deHavilland Mosquito and Martin B-26 Marauder.

1943 – World War II: Statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina was re-established at the State Anti-Fascist Council for the People’s Liberation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

1947 – Red Scare: The “Hollywood Ten” were blacklisted by Hollywood movie studios.

1947 – New Zealand ratified the Statute of Westminster and thus became independent of legislative control by the United Kingdom.

1950  Alexis Wright, Australian author, was born.

1950 – The “Storm of the Century“, a violent snowstorm, paralysed the northeastern United States and the Appalachians, bringing winds up to 100 mph and sub-zero temperatures. Pickens, West Virginia, recorded 57 inches of snow; 323 people died as a result of the storm.

1952  – Agatha Christie’s murder-mystery play The Mousetrap opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London later becoming the longest continuously-running play in history.

1958 – French Sudan gained autonomy as a self-governing member of the French Community.

1960 – The Mirabal sisters of the Dominican Republic were assassinated.

1963 – President John F. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

1970 – In Japan, author Yukio Mishima and one compatriot committed ritualistic suicide after an unsuccessful coup attempt.

1973 – George Papadopoulos, head of the military Regime of the Colonels in Greece, was ousted in a hardliners’ coup led by Brigadier General Dimitrios Ioannidis.

1975 – Suriname gained independence from the Netherlands.

1977 – Former Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. was found guilty by the Philippine Military Commission No. 2 and sentenced to death by firing squad.

1982 – The Minneapolis Thanksgiving Day Fire destroyed an entire city block.

1984 – 36 top musicians recorded Band Aid‘s Do They Know It’s Christmas in order to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia.

1986 – The King Fahd Causeway was officially opened in the Persian Gulf.

1987 – Typhoon Nina pummelled the Philippines with category 5 winds of 165 mph and a surge that destroys entire villages. At least 1,036 deaths are attributed to the storm.

1988 – German politician Rita Süssmuth became president of the Bundestag.

1992 – The Federal Assembly of Czechoslovakia voted to split the country into the Czech Republic and Slovakia from January 1, 1993.

1996 – An ice storm struck the central U.S. killing 26 people. A powerful windstorm affected Florida and winds gusted over 90 mph.

1999 – The United Nations established the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women to commemorate the murder of three Mirabal Sisters for resistance against the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship in Dominican Republic.

2000 – Baku earthquake.

2005 – Polish Minister of National Defence Radek Sikorski opened Warsaw Pact archives to historians. Maps of possible nuclear strikes against Western Europe, as well as the possible nuclear annihilation of 43 Polish cities and 2 million of its citizens by Soviet-controlled forces, are released.

2008 – A car bomb in St. Petersburg killed three people and injured one.

2009 – A storm brought 3 years worth of rain in 4 hours to Jeddah sparking floods which killed over 150 people and sweep thousands of cars away in the middle of Hajj.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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